Sometimes I would stand in the stacks and practice my French while shelving books.
dooblehvay dooblehvay dooblehvay
Je deteste ma vie
Oui oui oui
I saw the film Belle du Jour while babysitting for the Kline family on the top of the hill in town. They had a TV room with shimmery glass windows and comfy couches.
After tucking in the children I poured myself a large glass of box wine and watched the film.
I felt intense and moody and lustful and perplexed at the perfection of Séverine's hair.
Things changed as I systematically watched the families foreign film collection that year.
I was fixated on Catherine Deneuve, and discovered Vincent Perez.
I would practice sultry between the massive bookshelves.
In my mind I was a divine mixture of Audrey Hepburn, Deneuve, and Madonna.
I was classy. That was my new thing.
Just like when I discovered jazz and it stitched me in my side and
made me more than the acres of woods I was from.
French made me cooler that my town.
I wore a polka dot scarf around my neck for three weeks.
I pulled on jaunty berets and menswear clothing.
I was going to Paris the moment I turned 18.
I had already researched the metro map that my French teacher Madame Brown had brought back last year from her honeymoon to math teacher Mr. Hedges.
Madame Brown talked endlessly of Paris and how writer's sat in cafes and smoked and drank coffee and read Sartre- living the dream she would say.
She was so worldly and wise and yet she was here. In Shitville, USA. Why?
I would trace her bulletin boards of France with my fingers, wishing to be there.
I wanted to lay on Jim Morrison's grave and lick it.
I wanted to go into bookstores and cafes and get lost.
I wanted to kiss a French boy.
I didn't know it then, but I would do those things.
All of them and more during a summer where time was still slow, my skin invincible, and the whole world revolved around me.
I didn't know it then either that Madame Brown would die in a plane crash in Germany five years after I left that cow town.
I read it in the local paper while home visiting my parents.
She was survived by a name that sounded very French and may have been attached to a Vincent Perez lookalike. Mr Brown was history and for as sad as I was for a moment about her death, I was delirious for her as my mother poured the coffee and told me all about how Madame Brown had a mid life crisis and left Mr. Brown and moved to Provence.
Madame Brown died a happy woman I think.
And this has made all the difference.
title post- Amelie 2001